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December 2013 CFTN

An AACC/CAP Educational Newsletter for Toxicology Laboratories

Read the December 2013 Issue

Khat
Should a Drug With Centuries of Legal Use and Cultural Heritage Be Banned?
By Samir Aleryani, PhD, FACB, MT(ASCP), CLS(NCA)

Kat (Catha edulis forsk) is a plant that is chewed as a stimulant in several cultures. It is widely cultivated in four primary countries: Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Yemen. The first three of these are in the Horn of Africa, and the last is on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula. The people of these countries have chewed leaves from khat shrubs for many centuries, and this use is deeply rooted in their cultures.

Caffeine’s Safety
It Is Not Easy to Overdose on This Drug of Global Appeal

By Dwain Fuller, D-FTCB, TC-NRCC

Caffeine is a ubiquitous drug, consumed by all ages in almost all cultures. Caffeine’s ubiquity became apparent to the author several years ago during a research project investigating caffeine concentrations in human serum. No internal standards and controls were commercially available, and our attempts to create our own were stymied because finding caffeine-free human serum was essentially impossible.

Childhood Blood Lead Levels
CDC Advisory Committee Finds No Amount of Lead in Blood Is Safe
By Robert A. Middleberg, PhD, DABFT, DABCC(TC)
Meconium drug-testing in twins and triplets doesn’t often result in mismatches. When they do occur, discrepancies can frequently be explained by medications administered to one infant but not the other, separate placentas, or low drug concentrations around screening test cutoffs. These authors compared multiple birth meconium test results from a four-year period in a large national reference laboratory dataset and in a smaller dataset from an academic medical center.

CAP Surveys Update
New Toxicology Proficiency Surveys to Be Offered in 2014
By Glynnis Ingall, MD, PhD
Beginning in 2014, the College of American Pathologists (CAP) will offer two new proficiency testing surveys: Synthetic Cannabinoid/Designer Drugs (SCDD) and Vitreous Fluid, Postmortem (VF). These surveys are designed for labs that perform forensic or esoteric (reference) toxicology testing.